News & Politics

Jussie Smollett All Over Again? FBI Determines NASCAR's Bubba Wallace Was NOT the Target of a Hate Crime

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

On Sunday night, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who is African American, said he found a noose in his garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway race on Sunday.

“Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” he said in a statement.

Wallace had pressured NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at events and put a “Black Lives Matter” bumper sticker on his racecar.

“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you.’ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in,” Wallace concluded.

The incident prompted other NASCAR racers to participate in a virtue-signaling parade to support Wallace and fight racism, even though it quickly became apparent that Wallace’s story wasn’t adding up:

Despite the obvious questions about Wallace’s story, the media ran with the narrative that NASCAR is racist and that Wallace was a victim of racism. The Washington Post reported that Bubba Wallace’s mother said this incident wasn’t the first time he experienced racism at NASCAR. The Guardian accused NASCAR of turning a blind eye to racism in their sport for over 70 years. Several media outlets reported on the story under the assumption that the noose was actually a noose and that Wallace was undoubtedly the victim of a hate crime.

Except, he wasn’t.

The FBI investigated the incident and released a statement Tuesday evening:

On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway,” the joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. “After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.

The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.

The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.

Following the conclusion of the investigation, NASCAR released the following statement:

The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.

So, yeah, it was a garage pull that had been there since 2019. While this might not be a Jussie Smollett-like hate crime hoax, it’s nevertheless an unfortunate situation. Bubba Wallace may have jumped to the wrong conclusion upon seeing the garage pull, or he saw it and decided to take advantage of the current racial hypersensitive climate to pronounce himself a victim. I want to give Wallace the benefit of the doubt here, but it’s difficult to do that when Wallace seemed so determined to play the victim, and said those who questioned the story were “simple-minded.”

So far, Bubba Wallace hasn’t released a statement in response to the investigation concluding. Without a doubt, he needs to apologize for jumping to the wrong conclusion.

_____

Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis